The landscape of the Hemel and Aarde Valley has the composition of a classic nature painting. With the sea behind your shoulder, the vanishing point lies deep, deep, deep, with the clear sky of the Overberg Rûens against the northern horizon.
On either side, as in a culvert, mountains determine the architecture of the valley. One can hardly imagine that this region lies in South Africa, because the textures are purely European – only the presence of fynbos flowers reveals the soil.
Fynbos is one of the earth’s most diverse vegetation types, with astounding endemism (plants and animals that only occur here).
Spookfontein, with their careful management of the veld, is the paradise for the plant lover, and especially with spring one sees special plants; as soon as I entered, I came across a lovely and presumably rare Moraea, neatly next to the tasting room.
Time and time again, one is amazed at this gripping biome, which, although growing on almost pure and sterile sand, produces gem after gem.
Walking uphill, you walk through layer upon layer of plants, specific to their specific stratum. I remain amazed at how plants are adapted to micro-habitat, because within five meters uphill, the composition of species changes dramatically. Five, maybe six species of seven-year-olds occur here, not to mention Watsonia, Moraea and boogie. Spookfontein’s vegetation is like bazaar pudding, with sweet surprises.
Of course, this generous landscape is also known for the fabulous wines produced here, and Spookfontein is no exception. I like to single out two of their wines, the Sauvignon Blanc and their heavenly Pinot Noir.
Sauvignon Blanc is now experiencing a period of prosperity, just like Chardonay in the past. Unfortunately, there is an ocean of this cultivar available these days, but with the first glance I realized that Spookfontein had managed to do something that other winemakers avoided. The wine is immediately noticeable to the subtlety of the aroma, with a ripple of “field” that reminds me of goat bug.
But the crown prince of their wine is the delightful Pinot Noir. Years ago I had the privilege of getting some of the very best French Pinot Noirs under my nose. Always, with the clarity that olfactory memory brings, I will remember that first impression: soil, fresh compost, and then, gradually, the berries and fruits. This Pinot Noir will proudly stand next to the French greats.
Spookfontein lives up to its name: one visit, and the memory of veld and wine and food will stay with you, captured precisely because this place is unique and unique.
Visit spookfontein.co.za for more information on their wines, lovely cottages and tasting room with restaurant.